Oct 30, 2015

When the chips were down on the California economy, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration had good reason to focus efforts on small businesses.

“There are three million small businesses across our state; all of them could hire one person and we’d be almost at full employment,” said Kish Rajan (pictured above), former director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Rajan, a keynote speaker at the Sixth Annual Economic Summit at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond Thursday, made the case for why it is important that companies big and small come together to help each other thrive.

That’s the main reason the Richmond Chamber of Commerce holds the Economic Summit, which offers small to medium-sized businesses access to expert advice, supportive workshops and guidance on fetching capital, making connections and tapping local resources.

The two concurrent workshops featured guest speakers such as Brian McKeown from Kiva Zip,  Corinne Gentile from Working Solutions and Bob Porter from Pacific Community Venture. All three spoke on how small businesses can access capital for business growth. The second workshop focused on utilizing resources and featured Robert Laiks of SCORE, Oscar Dominguez from Small Business Development Centers, and Eli Raber of BusinessAdvising.org.

summit.10-30-5The morning kicked off with an inspiring keynote speech by Valeria Coleman Morris, and Emmy Award-winning former CNN business anchor and financial adviser. With her focus on personal and business financial acumen, Morris reminded the attendees, “it’s your money, so take it personally,” and provided useful advice and strategies for protecting your money and planning for your financial future.

Dozens of representatives of local businesses participated, including Chevron Richmond, Sims Metal, The Office City, Wright Brokers and Mechanics Bank. Kaiser Permanente, AC Transit, and AT&T also had seats at the table, along with Richmond officials including Mayor Tom Butt and City Manager Bill Lindsay.

Even all the food served during lunch was local. Among them were Up & Under Pub and Grill and La Flor de Jalisco Restaurant. The nonprofit food incubator Kitchen@812 also took part in the summit, which focused on collaboration between business, government and nonprofits.

summit.10-30-2“There is a spirit and pride and purpose in this community and that’s very real,” Rajan said. “There is something happening here in Richmond and I’ve always believed in Richmond’s rise.”

Rajan’s statement came on the same day Mayor Butt announced that Richmond recorded its lowest unemployment rate in years last month.

Rajan touted Chevron and other big businesses in Richmond as the “backbone” of the community in terms of jobs and revenue. He said meanwhile the city needs to promote a diversity of businesses and technological innovation.

summit.10-30-1“Those industrial operations are critically important to our foreseeable future,” Rajan said. “Let’s not look past that, but we have to continue to innovate.”

He said government regulations should protect citizens without stifling businesses.

“We have to continually strive to get that balance correct,” he said.


  1. Hi Mike! Great roundup post. I work with Eli Raber at BusinessAdvising.org. I noticed a typo in our name, in case anyone is trying to find our program. Would you mind updating that? Thanks!

    Patrick Duggan | Nov 2nd, 2015
  2. Fixed! Thanks for the heads up Patrick and the kind words!

    Mike Aldax | Nov 2nd, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.